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Benet boys basketball ready for second half tests

LISLE – Leaving the Proviso West Holiday Tournament with a 2-2 record wasn’t quite what Benet’s boys basketball team and head coach Gene Heidkamp had in mind.

But considering the Redwings have bigger goals down the road, posting a .500 tournament record against some tough competition could serve them well as they start the second half of the season.

“We did all right,” Heidkamp said. “We went 2-2 and lost two close games. I’d like to have played better, but all in all it was fine.”

Benet alternated wins and losses at the tournament. After topping Foreman, 69-52, to start the tourney, Benet fell to Providence St. Mel, 54-50, in the second round. A 76-51 win over Hillcrest on Dec. 28 preceded a 70-67 loss to Rockford Auburn on Dec. 30.

In the tournament finale, Sean O’Mara’s layup with 32 seconds left tied the game at 67-67, but Auburn’s Zayvious Hoover drained three free throws with three seconds left to deal the Redwings a 70-67 defeat.

O’Mara led all scorers in the game with 30 points, while Liam Nelligan added 15 points and Colin Bonnett tallied 10.

O’Mara was the game’s leading scorer in each game. He had 22 points against Hillcrest, 25 against Providence St. Mel and 20 against Foreman. The senior center was named to the all-tournament first team.

“Sean draws a lot of attention, but the other guys are doing fairly well, especially considering they’re guys who didn’t see a lot of playing time on varsity last year,” Heidkamp said.

A better performance at the tourney was hoped for, but the Redwings have more interest in a long playoff run, and testing themselves at
Proviso West was a good precursor to the grind of the postseason.

“I think it was productive from the standpoint that we have areas where we have to get better, and we saw that,” Heidkamp said. “We have to get better defensively and we have to cut down on our turnovers.

“These are games we can learn from. We know we have to get better defensively, take care of the ball better and play situational ball better.”

Benet is 8-4 against a solid schedule, and the tests will keep on coming.

The Redwings face a one-loss York team on the road Friday, and still have games against Notre Dame, St. Viator and Stevenson, the Proviso West champs and last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, left on the schedule.

“We’ve only played 12 games, and of our four losses, all four were winnable games. Three were decided in the last 10 seconds,” Heidkamp said. “We’re playing a high level of competition. If we scheduled teams to try to get a gaudy record, we would not play the teams we are playing.”

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